8 Chinese Companies That Are Dominant In Africa

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Written by Peter Pedroncelli
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From music streaming to mobile phone manufacturing, a handful of Chinese companies have managed to establish a dominant position in the African market. Photo by Yingchou Han on Unsplash

There are more than 10,000 Chinese companies operating in Africa, 90 percent of them privately owned, according to McKinsey.

From music streaming to mobile phone manufacturing, a handful of Chinese companies have managed to identify and pursue opportunities in the African market while establishing a dominant position.

For the purposes of this article, a dominant Chinese company is defined as one that has a significant share of the African market or has a presence in multiple African countries.

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Here are 7 Chinese companies that are dominant in Africa.

Transsion

Transsion, the Chinese phone-maker that produces the Infinix, Tecno and Itel brands of phones is a major player in the African mobile devices market. Transsion is the top-selling phone maker in Africa, dominating the feature phone market with 64 percent of units shipped in the third quarter of 2019, Quartz reports. In terms of smartphones, while Samsung leads the African smartphone market with a 36.9 percent market share, Transsion follows with 20.2 percent, according to the International Data Corporation.

Huawei

Chinese multinational tech firm Huawei is a dominant player in the construction of telecommunications infrastructure across Africa — up to 70 percent of the continent’s telecoms infrastructure is due to Huawei, according to Quartz. Huawei operates in 40 African countries and has built more than 50 percent of the Africa’s 4G mobile network since it began operations in Kenya in 1998, ASPI reports.

Boomplay

Chinese music streaming company Transsnet, through its mobile app Boomplay, has become the largest streaming music service in Africa with an estimated 50 percent of the market. It has 46 million users in Africa with a catalog of around five million videos and songs for users to choose from, according to CNN. Transsnet Group is a joint venture between internet firm NetEase Group and mobile phone manufacturer Transsion.

StarTimes

Chinese broadcasting firm StarTimes has grown into one of Africa’s top pay-television providers, with around 10 million subscribers and established subsidiaries in more than 30 African countries. StarTimes has invested in low-cost, digital satellite television, according to CNN. In some countries, such as Kenya, StarTimes has introduced digital satellite television to rural areas that previously had limited access to a television signal.

First Automobile Works

Chinese state-owned truck manufacturer First Automobile Works (FAW) has a $50 million assembly plant in South Africa’s Eastern Cape which produces about 5,000 vehicles annually for both the South African market and other African countries including Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Namibia and Angola. In 2016, FAW partnered with Perfection Motors to establish an assembly plant in Lagos, Nigeria, which can produce about 1,000 vehicles annually, according to TheNation.

New South Group

Beijing-based New South Group is a private Chinese company that builds and runs industrial zones focused on manufacturing products in Africa, usually in partnership with local African investors or governments. The company built and operates industrial zones in Nigeria’s Ogun state and Eldoret in Kenya. The industrial park in Eldoret is estimated to be worth $1.96 billion. New South Group plans to launch another 10 industrial zones across Africa including in Ghana and Angola, according to FT.

Sinosteel

Technology related to telecommunications and mobile devices aside, China is also dominant within mining technology, especially related to the extraction of chromium and iron resources in Africa. Beijing-based Sinosteel Group Corp Ltd, which entered the continent through South Africa in 1996, is a state-owned developer and processor that runs three chromium resources companies, with more than 140 million tons of chrome ore resources under its control — 14 times China’s reserves, according to ChinaDaily.